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A new dromaeosaurid (Dinosauria: Theropoda) with Asian affinities from the latest Cretaceous of North America

Abstract

Dromaeosaurids from the Maastrichtian of North America have a poor fossil record and are known largely from isolated teeth, which have typically been referred to taxa based on more complete material from earlier Campanian strata. An almost complete maxilla with well-preserved dentition and an associated dentary from the Hell Creek Formation of Montana are used to establish a new dromaeosaurid taxon in the latest Maastrichtian, immediately prior to the end-Cretaceous extinction event. Acheroraptor temertyorum gen. et sp. nov. is differentiated from other dromaeosaurids on the basis of a hypertrophied postantral wall that projects posteriorly into the antorbital fenestra, a maxillary fenestra positioned low in the antorbital fossa and directly posterior to the promaxillary fenestra, and distinctive dentition with marked apicobasal ridges. The new material allows a dromaeosaurid from the Maastrichtian of North America to be placed within a phylogenetic framework for the first time. Phylogenetic analysis suggests Acheroraptor is a velociraptorine that is more closely related to Asian dromaeosaurids, including Tsaagan and Velociraptor, than it is to Dromaeosaurus, Saurornitholestes, or any other taxon from North America. As part of the Lancian TyrannosaurusTriceratops fauna, A. temertyorum is the latest occurring dromaeosaurid. Its relationships and occurrence suggest a complex historical biogeographic scenario that involved multiple, bi-directional faunal interchanges between Asia and North America during the Late Cretaceous.

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Acknowledgments

We extend special thanks to T. Seever who facilitated the acquisition of the holotype by the ROM. The specimen was collected and prepared by CK preparations, Fort Peck, MT, USA. R. Barsbold and T. Tsogtbaatar provided access to specimens in Mongolia, and P. Holroyd (UCMP), M. Norell (AMNH), and B. Strilisky (TMP) also provided access to comparative material. C. Stoppa executed the illustrations in Fig. 1. D. Dufault executed the line art in Fig. 1. Thanks to K. Seymour for X-ray imaging and D. Scott for assistance with the SEM imaging. The Willi Hennig Society sponsored our edition of TNT. We also thank S. Brusatte, A. Turner, M. Loewen, and N. Longrich for discussions. This study was supported by Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Discovery Grants to DCE and PJC. Travel funds were provided by the Doris O. and Samuel P. Welles Research Fund to DWL. The specimen was acquired with help from the Louise Hawley Stone Trust administered by the Royal Ontario Museum. We thank S. Brusatte and two anonymous reviewers for comments that improved the manuscript.

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Correspondence to David C. Evans.

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Communicated by: Robert Reisz

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Evans, D.C., Larson, D.W. & Currie, P.J. A new dromaeosaurid (Dinosauria: Theropoda) with Asian affinities from the latest Cretaceous of North America. Naturwissenschaften 100, 1041–1049 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00114-013-1107-5

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Keywords

  • Dromaeosauridae
  • Theropoda
  • Cretaceous
  • Biogeography